A Catholic chaplain is taking legal action against a National Health Service (NHS) Trust in London, alleging religious discrimination.
Reverend Dr. Patrick Pullicino claims he was made redundant for answering an LGBT patient’s question about same sex marriage.
When the patient sought the priest’s opinion on marrying his partner, Reverend Pullicino asked him whether he had considered what God might say to him about it.
The patient was unhappy with that answer and complained to the Trust.
He also alleged Dr. Pullicino had made references to ‘hell’ which the priest vehemently denied.
The head of the Trust apologised to the patient and said the NHS policy on Equality and Diversity held greater importance than religious beliefs.
A few months after the incident, Reverend Pullicino had his contract terminated allegedly because of “budgetary constraints.”
The priest noted his pay was very low and he had offered to work for free.
He claims it was “harassment, religious discrimination and victimisation.”
Andrea Williams, executive director of the Christian Legal Centre which is representing the priest, said: “How many more of these cases do we need before society wakes up? We need to see an end to the ideology of equality and diversity riding roughshod over the Christian faith and treating it with such little respect.”
She continued: “This story is one in a long line of stories that sends a chilling message to NHS chaplains that you can no longer respond to questions on human sexuality with standard biblical teaching. You must self-censor, affirm at all costs, or face the consequences.”
A spokesperson for the Trust told Premier Christian News: “We take seriously our responsibility to ensure patients’ spiritual needs are met and we oppose any form of discrimination. We seek to protect all of our patients and members of staff in line with the Equality Act.”
Prior to his ordination as a Catholic priest in 2019, Dr. Pullicino had a successful career in the NHS as a consultant neurologist, and became well-known for helping to expose the abuses of the Liverpool Care Pathway, an end-of-life protocol that was later abolished.
He noted that after he was removed from the London hospital, there was no one to provide sacraments and support for Catholic patients.
“Psychiatric patients are extremely vulnerable. They need support, and they particularly need spiritual support. With some of the psychiatric problems like schizophrenia, there is a blurring between spiritual and personal dimensions, which can really upset patients. Spiritual support is extremely important for these people,” he explained.
He observed that the hospital had gone out of its way to hire more Muslim chaplains, although the percentage of Muslims in the UK is relatively small.
“It’s like they’re bending over backward to support and bring in a religion like that, whereas Christianity they’re pushing out. It’s sad really,” he lamented.